This is a question that parents often ask me at some point during the assessment process. More often than not, this topic is brought forth when we go over results from their child’s neuropsychological assessment. I might suggest, depending on the findings, that they consider requesting a 504 Plan through their local school district to help their child or teenager reach and demonstrate their full academic potential. Most of the time, this request is made when a disability is found to be interfering with a student’s learning skills. For example, students with learning disabilities and ADHD often experience academic difficulties, but may not meet eligibility requirements for an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). Unlike the IEP, a 504 Plan does not include educational, social, or behavioral/emotional goals. The 504 Plan typically lists educational accommodations that are granted to a student. Another way to think of this is if your child needs special education services outside of the regular classroom setting, this will be specified in an IEP. If your child needs accommodations in the regular classroom setting, they generally qualify for the 504 Plan.
Accommodations requested vary depending on the underlying disabilities or challenges, and are specific to each student. It is often helpful to obtain a neuropsychological evaluation to determine a child’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses to help derive the appropriate assistance. For example, if a student takes more time to complete assignments or tests because of distractions or slow processing speed, they may benefit from time extensions. For others, preferential seating in class away from friends or distracting peers is most helpful. This may also include being able to take tests in a quieter setting, sending study guides home a few days before a test for review, obtaining teacher notes, keeping an extra set of books at home, allowing students to work with a buddy to help them stay focused and complete their assignments, etc.
If you feel your child is struggling to keep up with academic demands and might benefit from this type of assistance, call school staff and/or call Dr. Beaulieu to set up an appointment to further explore this option. We would be glad to help you! In many cases, psychoeducational or neuropsychological testing helps determine whether a student needs a 504 plan or an IEP. Please consult wrightslaw.com for more information about 504 Plans.